Zagat Fast-Food Survey for 2011

“Cannot always tell if I am eating the pizza or the box,” succinctly describes why a pizza fast-food restaurant did not make it in the top five of the Zagat Fast-Food Survey. Instead, Five Guys won top honors followed by In-N-Out, Wendy’s, Burger King and McDonald’s. A quick visit to www.zagat.com can give an entertaining few minutes looking over how Americans really eat. Over 6,000 people who collectively averaged 6.3 meals a month at the chains chose the winners of the “mega” chains, large chains, quick refreshment chains and the “upscale” full-service chains. I hadn’t paid attention to the need to categorize fast food into the tidy cubicles, but it certainly makes sense in our current climate of categorizing dozens of movie and book genres, owning a dozen jeans, each specific to a different dress occasion, so many cheeses I never know what to buy anymore, and a thousand apps for the cell phone.

But back to Zagat. The full-service chains were led by Red Robin where I’ve never been and now I have to try, Steak ‘n Shake which is not in my state, and third The Cheesecake Factory, which around here is considered near fine dining. The last time I was at The Cheesecake Factory it was because my granddaughters chose it. I was astounded by the serving sizes that were passing our table on the way to other diners. Big, bigger, biggest is the American way, so I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me. And come to think about it, I have chinks in the armor.

My wine glasses have grown in the last years. What I consider one glass, well, it is probably three of what my grandmother poured (Mogen David on Thanksgiving and Christmas only). My purses have grown, too. I look ridiculous standing by a few of them, but oh well.

But back to Zagat. From the outtake area, the following quote is probably why Mexican was only represented by Chipotle Mexican Grill and (Should I be surprised?) Taco Bell. “Rule #1: don’t look inside the burrito.”  The outtake button on the website is the most entertaining area. I don’t want to know which chain elicited this remark, “Major food groups are well covered: grease, salt and burned.”

Food. Love it. But I’ve gotten pickier over time. Perhaps because I never had the time for food when I was twenty years old and running around getting ready for a date. Now I’m twenty plus quite a bit and whole evenings are devoted to dinner. And that American-sized glass of wine.

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